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Paper No. 15
Steven Goring


A quest for spirituality.

By Elliot J. Nitkin

had the pleasure to chat with Steven Goring at the opening of his show (June 7, 2012) “Tumulus – Tumuli” presently featured at the Jennifer Kostuik Gallery.

From the moment I started to look at his work, I found the blend of light and dark fascinating; his soft subtle play between dense lines and wide open areas of colour an evocation of emotion.

To fully appreciate the artist’s endeavors, you must allow yourself the opportunity to experience his work as a journey to meld spirituality with reality.  If you let it, it will bring you to a place of simple inner peace.  This I feel is his true gift as an artist, and an interesting outcome of his life’s direction.

In his and Jennifer’s words:

“The varied landscape and atmospheric light qualities of Vancouver Island have continually served as inspiration and are explored and portrayed in Steven Goring’s 7th solo exhibition with the Jennifer Kostuik Gallery.  Rock outcroppings, piles of rubble, and earthy mounds have prompted his current research of ‘tumulus’ or ‘tumuli’, the Latin word describing a burial mound. For the artist, man made mounds that naturally blend into the landscape have a silence that is mysterious. The theme of a constructed object creating a mystical abstract response intrigued him. Further reflection on the topic eventually led Goring to construct mounds in his landscape abstractions.  Shapes blend together to create layered compositions with shimmering, undulating light, earthy hues, and exceptionally fine brushstroke detail.

I started painting the backgrounds and the mounds, and many times, the results would be partially rubbed away, and a new layer added.  The paintings started to take on the idea of something hidden-something covered up….I have come to believe that human nature has a spirituality that is intuitive.”

The noise of the show around me dissipated as my focus was brought to bear on his use of darker lines and wider expanses of colour. I was taken away for a moment from the surroundings and became keenly aware of a sense of calm.  After having spoken with the artist, I know why there was so strong a reaction.

Have you ever wondered who would eschew the corporate world, driven by all its demands, for the calm of rural life on an island to work as a painter?

You will now.

Steven began his career pursuing a technical background in cinematography.  He later sold tech and colour equipment all because he loved digital imagery and imagery in general.

However, he was searching for a greater spiritual awareness, a search that took him from corporate Toronto to rural Victoria.  He has come to the conclusion that as we age we become spiritually aware.  It is not likely to be a conscious decision, we simply start to grow an understanding of our spirituality.

For Steven, spirituality resides next to reality, the two are inextricably linked, but he doesn’t pursue the spiritual, he simply lets it occur.

In his mind, it is not something we can will to happen.  In fact, we should simply let it happen, it is not something we should try to control, much like physical growth it will happen whether we want it to or not.

This spirituality comes from experiencing everyday life, but not from doctrine.  I had the impression that he is not a strong fan of organized religion; he certainly does not believe in a deity.  On the other hand that is not really all that surprising; anyone who has been involved in organized religion will tell you that in reality it isn’t all that organized.

Living in a rural setting is an imperative for him, he needs the sense of peace and tranquility it offers.  Steven is a romanticist, strongly influenced by Caspar David Friedrich, one of the most highly regarded German painters of the 19th century.  Friedrich’s work was filled with the symbolism of humanity’s relationship to nature.  He was described “as a man who had discovered “the tragedy of landscape”.

Ironically, Friedrich’s work came to be regarded at the end of his life as a throwback to a bygone era by a Germany that was moving into the modern age, a concern Steven seems to think should be addressed in the opposite direction.

Perhaps this is one man’s take on society’s ills, and his implied cure.

It is in Steven’s expression of reward from his craft that I find an interesting life lesson:  His reward is derived from applying the culmination of all of his skills, from conceiving a piece and letting it develop of its own accord, to the actual painting of the piece itself, and finally, to the construction of the frames on which his paintings reside.

I do know this: finding a sense of nature in his work can give you a fascinating moment between yourself and the artwork.  I strongly suggest you take the time to go see it.  If you want to achieve that sense of being in your space, his work will succeed for you.

The Jennifer Kostuik gallery is at 1070 Homer Street in Vancouver.